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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Fees ban moves a step closer - Bill returns to Parliament this week

The Tenant Fees Bill is back in Parliament this week when it goes for its Second Reading in the House of Lords on Wednesday.

There will be a debate, with a government minister introducing the measure and then contributions from Lords. The entire process is likely to be completed today.

Last month during its Third Reading in the Commons, MPs rejected an amendment from Conservative Daniel Kawczynski for fees to be capped at £300; they also voted down Labour shadow housing minister Melanie Onn MP’s proposal to increase potential maximum fines from £5,000 to £30,000.

With no substantial opposition to the measure from any political party, the measure is on course to be made law in the early part of next year.

The House of Commons Library has issued a neat summary of the law, which reads:

The Tenant Fees Bill would ban letting fees and the majority of other upfront fees payable by tenants to rent a property. It would also cap the amount of refundable security deposit a tenant would be required to pay to the value of six weeks’ rent and cap the amount of holding deposit a tenant could be required to put down to secure a property to the value of one week’s rent.

The Bill would place a duty on trading standards authorities to enforce these measures (and enable district councils which are not trading standards authorities to do so) and would impose new penalties on any landlord or letting agent found to be in contravention of them. 

These include a fine of £5,000 for a first breach, which would typically be viewed as a civil offence. A further breach within five years, however, would be viewed as a criminal offence, and subject to an unlimited fine and a banning order offence under the Housing and Planning Act 2016. 

Ministers have stated the Government will provide £500,000 in additional funding during the first year after the provisions come into force to support enforcement activities in recognition of the additional costs they will generate but expects the regime to be self-financing over the long-term.

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